On Thursday night, Juan Lynum, Regina Hill, and Cynthia Harris debated in front of more than 170 people, at the Mt. Zion Church to make their case to the voters, just days before they head to the polls, to determine who will be the next Orlando Commissioner from District 5.
The forum opened with each candidate describing why they would be the best choice for the district. Harris led off voicing her love for the community and saying that businesses coming to the area had a responsibility to hire and train D5 voters for those jobs. Hill led off with an “I am” Dialog. “I am a mother. I am a Nurse. I am a Veteran and I am ready to fight!” she said. Juan Lynum’s opening led to a chilly reception. “We are losing one of the greatest commissioners in the City” he said of his mother Daisy Lynum, who is retiring after 16 years. That remark led to audible grumbles by the audience, who were thrown off by her rocky exit from office.
When asked about how Paramore could benefit from the massive city projects currently taking place, Harris stressed transportation to get residents to jobs and other places they needed to go. Hill stressed training and certification programs. Lynum yielded to Mayor Buddy Dyer‘s power over those projects and urged constituents to call his office to make a difference.
The candidates were then asked about the homeless problem. Regina Hill slammed Daisy Lynum for putting a moratorium in place, that hindered helping the homeless and urged restoring their mental health. Lynum fought back by insisting there was a plethora of services available and telling those in attendance that it shouldn’t be District 5’s mission alone to help the homeless. He also pushed for getting the homeless identification that could open up access to services. Harris pushed for starting a directory to point those that needed help, in the right direction.
The fencing between Hill and Lynum continued when asked about job development. Lynum explained potential for job growth with the Creative Village and the Magic Entertainment Complex. And the positive trend they could encourage. He said he had the Magic’s support and pointed a path of prosperity through them. “The Magic don’t support me.” Hill fired off about the team “They didn’t give me $2000 dollars, so I don’t owe them” and continued “We’re tired of getting crumbs. It’s time for us to eat!”
All of the candidates supported giving rehabilitated felons a second chance for government employment, and developing youth programs to keep the kids away from the wrong elements of the community. They also all pushed for working with officials in higher offices for the betterment of the community.
During the closing remarks Cynthia Harris ended the forum with an impressive soundbyte that energized the audience “Pretend like the other neighborhoods don’t exist, because that’s what they’re doing to you!”
The event was well moderated and the audience in attendance was animated.
Analysis and Opinion:
Juan Lynum didn’t flinch when praising his mother’s work despite the grumbles from the audience. He piggy-backed on Hill’s answers a couple of times during the debate. He did come armed with the most “hard info” when talking about projects currently underway in the city. He also seemed very supportive of policies put in place and the direction the district was already going. You’ve also got to consider the emotional restraint it takes to keep calm, when someone is indeed slamming the policies of the person that brought you into this world. When I spoke to Lynum about his campaign’s late start, he said there were many sleepless nights and that he was getting advice not only from Commissioner Lynum, but many other officials connected to the city. Simply put. If you voted for Daisy Lynum, you’ll probably vote for Juan Lynum.
Regina Hill: was the fighter of the group and has managed to take her long arrest history and turn it into a success story for her platform. It’s still a liability for her candidacy but she’s not turning away questions. She positioned herself as a clear opponent of the status quo and drew the most applause during the event. In a pre-debate interview we spoke about a loss in her family two days ago. She said she was tired, weary, and hurting but was drawing strength from her supporters.
Cynthia Harris: Had the most even performance of the evening. She steered clear of the “back and forth” between Lynum and Hill and stayed on her message. Her platform seemed to be a balance between the other two. In a pre-debate interview she pushed for an open relationship with Home Owners Association Presidents and said that she was the only candidate that actually lived in the district.
I’d like to once again thank the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church for putting on this event.